Just maybe the Lake Zurich fans were a little unsettled. After all, their favored Bears girls volleyball team was one set away from seeing their season end in the Conant sectional semifinals.
Clearly, though, there was no panic on the Lake Zurich bench. This tested team of 34 wins had played teh same Glenbrook North team a few weeks back, and had beaten the Spartans in three sets that time.
That pattern repeated itself Tuesday, as the Bears rallied for a 24-26, 25-17, 25-19 victory.
Lake Zurich (34-4) will play Stevenson for the sectional title Thursday night at Conant after the Patriots eliminated Carmel in a two-set decision in the later semifinal at Conant.
Bears coach Matt Aiello knew his team would get a test from Glenbrook North.
"Chris Cooper (GBN head coach) is one of best coaches in the state of Illinois,'' Aiello said. "We knew they would run their attack out of the middle and we had to slow them down."
The Bears had a good start in the first set, surging to a quick 4-1 lead following a Kiley McPeek kill. Two more McPeek kills came during the serving of Kristen Walding, and Lake Zurich was up 15-13. Following an ace by Sydney Glover, the set was knotted at 24-24. The Spartans (30-8) scored the next 2 points to take it.
"We turned it up,'' Walding said. "We needed to stay patient and get more aggressive."
The Bears did just that. After leading the second set 7-6, the Spartans never led again.
A pair of serving aces from Mallory Parsons opened up a 12-9 Bears lead in set two.
"We knew we could do it,'' Parsons said. "We had no doubts in our minds. We just need to pick up the enthusiasm."
Parsons and McPeek shared team honors in kills with 7.
"Mallory played with a lot energy tonight,'' Aiello said.
Parsons had three straight kills in the first set.
Walding had an exceptional kill in the second set and the Bears took control after that play.
"Kristen really took over at the net,'' Aiello said. "We had to switch up our hitters a lot and she dealt with that."
In the decisive third set, McPeek and Glover registered kills with Mickenzie Andrew serving. Another kill from Walding opened up an 8-5 Lake Zurich lead.
Parsons was next up on the line and with another Walding kill the Lake Zurich lead was 12-6.
"I didn't want us to get too complacent,'' Aiello said. "We needed a little bit of adversity."
Glover added 5 kills to the Bears' attack. Left-hander Allie McIlwain chipped in 3 kills, Walding had 27 assists to go with her 4 kills and libero Ashley Dina notched 28 digs.
And just like that, Lake Zurich seems poised to extend its playoff run.
"We are getting better with every practice and every game,'' Parsons said.
Walding, meanwhile, is ready for a big finish.
"We want to play until we can't play any more,'' she said.